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austrian raspberry shortbread

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what makes these austrian exactly? i’m not sure but those austrians got it right.

this is my kind of dessert.  while most people indulge over gooey chocolate concoctions or bowlfuls of creamy dreamy mousses, i much rather prefer formations of the fruity.  anything with berries or citrus is an immediate magnet for my finicky fingers.  mmm blackberry cobbler… strawberry shortcake… warm apple crisp à la mode… gets me every time.

these shortbread bars, however, are definitely climbing up the ranks of my fruitful fantasies.  with raspberry jam and a hint of lemon zest, they perfect the balance between delicacy and simplicity… with just a little sass.  even my diehard choc-pb friends are asking for this recipe.

countdown: 23 days until italy– and a mandatory stop at austria while i’m over there!img_2298

Austrian Raspberry Shortbread
adapted from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand, Rick Tramanto and Julia Moskin

3 ½ sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberry jam
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside. 

Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) until soft and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until just incorporated and until the dough starts to come together.  Divide the dough in half and form into logs (to fit into food processor).  Wrap each log in plastic wrap.  Freeze the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight (or as long as a month, if you like).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one log of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it by hand or with the grating disk in a food processor into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan or a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Make sure the surface is covered evenly with shreds of dough (do not press the dough into the pan—resist!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the raspberry jam with the lemon juice until smooth.  Drizzle as evenly as possible over the shortbread making sure to leave a ½ inch edge.  Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown and the center no longer wiggles, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Then dust the top with powdered sugar and cut into bars with a serrated knife.  

 

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holiday hangover

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while christmas may be over, i am still in the holiday spirit (known as after-christmas shopping!). since i didn’t get to see some of my high school friends before christmas, i’m having some belated gift exchanges this week. hence the prolonged baking spree (yes!). here is one recipe i baked before but never documented– so of course, i had to make it again.

this cranberry pistachio biscotti is perfection. a crumbly-crunchy-buttery perfection. it’s not too sweet or overcomplicated. the bursts of tart cranberry and roasted pistachio come out in every bite.

i did alter the recipe a bit with the addition of more cranberries, pistachios, butter (you know, all the good stuff) and some orange zest. make these cookies– the next christmas is only 362 days away. 

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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
adapted from Martha Stewart

2/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup boiling water
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 large eggs, plus 1 for brushing loaves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup pistachios
12 ounces white chocolate, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the orange zest and then the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in cranberries and pistachios.  

Turn out dough onto a floured surface (dough will be rather sticky); divide in half. Shape each piece into a 16-by-2-inch log, and transfer to prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Brush beaten egg over surface of the dough logs, and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment paper to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on rack. Bake until firm to touch, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on rack. Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Can be dipped in the melted white chocolate for a special touch.

Yield: 3 dozen

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